Pigskin Preview: Panorama travels to Pella Christian

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Panorama faces host Pella Christian Friday in the second round of the postseason. The Panthers have allowed 18 total points in their last five games. Photo courtesy Ann Appleseth.

PANORA — If there is a better two-loss team in Class 1A, they would have to have an impressive argument to top the one favoring the designation belongs to Panorama.

The Panthers (6-2) opened the season with a 20-14 home loss to 2019 Class A state runner-up Grundy Center. Two weeks later, the Panthers fell at home, 30-0, to Van Meter, the 2019 1A state runner-up and a team that has not fallen in regular season play since the first week of the 2015 season.

Discount those losses and Panorama has outscored their six other foes by a combined 217-49. The Panthers have yielded just 18 points in their last five games (three were shutouts) and has an average edge of 28.8 points to 12.3 points allowed through eight games.

Pella Christian (5-3) began the season on a sour note, falling 29-24 at Des Moines Christian and by a 42-7 margin to visiting PCM. The Eagles fell, 28-7, at Mt. Ayr in week five, but since then has won three straight by a combined 123-67, including a 26-6 win over Hudson in the first round of the postseason. The team averages 28 points per game and yields 23.8 points per outing.

Sophomore Isaac Kacmarynski is 70-of-142 passing for 1,115 yards and 10 touchdowns while being intercepted four times.

He has a tall and athletic corps of receivers, led by 6-7 junior Eric Mulder, who has caught 27 passes for 372 yards and four scores. Caden Van Dyke (6-1, Sr.) has 18 catchers for 362 yards and three TDs, with 6-2 junior Bennett Spronk having 11 snags for 156 yards and one TD.

The ground game has provided 20 TDs and gained 1,322 yards on 248 rushes, an average of 5.3 yards per carry. Cody Boender (123-647, 12 TDs) leads the way, with Kacmarynski adding 558 yards and six scores on 88 rushes.

The defense has made 11 sacks, recovered five fumbles and intercepted eight passes.

Any talk of defense must necessarily favor Panorama with their 20 sacks, eight fumble recoveries and nine interceptions. Lucas Leiferman is tied for second in 1A with five thefts.

Evan Taylor (43.5), Trent Hambleton (39), Drew Taylor (29.5), and Wyatt Appleseth (27) are the tackler leaders. Appleseth is tied for fourth in 1A with seven sacks, with Hambleton having five.

For all the shine the Panther defense has earned, the offense has plenty of sparkle as well — perhaps more.

Senior quarterback Dominic Walker is piling up the numbers. He leads 1A in passing yards with 1,982, with his 19 aerial TDs tied for the class lead. His average yards per completion (19.8) is second-best in 1A and his QB rating of 164.5 is third-best. Walker is 100-of-162 overall, with only six passes being intercepted.

Evan Taylor (31-631, 5 TDs) and Drew Taylor (27-599, 6 TDs) and second, and fifth, respectively, in 1A in receiving yardage. Zach Rizzuti (10-233, 3 TDs) and Hunter Pauley (11-169, 2 TDs) have also been key elements.

The ground game has, as a result, not received as much attention. Panorama has rushed 212 times for 668 yards and 13 TDs.

Walker has 330 yards on 85 carries, with Preston Walker adding 145 yards on 27 rushes and Wyatt Clark 115 yards on 37 carries. Dominic Walker and Clark have each scored four times on the ground, with Preston Walker adding three rushing scores.

The IHSAA will reseed the Sweet 16 in each class after Friday’s results, with the new pairings released Saturday. Admission to Friday’s game at Pella Christian is $6, with admission to the third round and quarterfinals rises to $8.

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